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Forum explores China-Afghanistan-Pakistan connectivity and cooperation

GAO YING | 2022-04-21 | Hits:
Chinese Social Sciences Today

The China Social Science Forum 2022 in Beijing, on April 15 Photo: Zhu Gaolei/CSST

On April 15, the China Social Science Forum 2022 was held in Beijing, under the theme of “China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Connectivity and Cooperation under the Perspective of ‘Belt and Road’.” Experts and scholars from related fields in China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries participated in the forum via both online and off-line channels.
Gao Xiang, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), pointed out that China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are traditionally friendly neighbors. The three countries are connected by mountains and rivers, as well as in the humanities. They jointly created the ancient Silk Road civilization and made important contributions to the integration of, and mutual learning between, the East and the West. 
Gao continued, observing that following fundamental changes in Afghanistan’s situation in 2021, China and Pakistan have conducted dialogue and exchanges with the interim government of Afghanistan in an equal and respectful manner. As soon as they could, China and Pakistan overcame difficulties and provided emergency humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and promoted the establishment of “Afghanistan’s neighbors + Afghanistan” foreign ministers’ dialogue mechanism. Especially in terms of helping and supporting Afghanistan’s peaceful reconstruction, China proposed support of practical China-Afghanistan-Pakistan cooperation, with the goal of improving people’s livelihoods.
Yue Xiaoyong, special envoy for Afghan affairs of the Chinese foreign ministry, said that Afghanistan is a hub connecting South Asia and Central Asia. Only by strengthening connectivity and integrating into regional cooperation can Afghanistan’s geographical advantages be fully released, and peace and cooperation can be better facilitated. Steady advancement of regional cooperation is a key factor in promoting the peaceful reconstruction process in Afghanistan. 
Under the current geopolitical situation, China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan should restart their tripartite cooperation mechanism, Yue said. Yue suggested building tripartite political mutual trust based on the principles of mutual respect, equal consultation, as well as mutual benefit and win-win results, with the concept of good-neighborliness and friendship. With the goal of benefiting people’s livelihoods, the three parties should focus on the overall situation and the common interests of all parties, promoting trilateral pragmatic cooperation. The three parties should strengthen security cooperation in counterterrorism, guided by the concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security.
The Third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan was successfully convened in Tunxi, east China’s Anhui Province, in late March. The meeting achieved important consensus and results, one of which is The Tunxi Initiative of the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan on Supporting Economic Reconstruction in and Practical Cooperation with Afghanistan.
Xing Guangcheng, director of the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies at CASS, said that this initiative clarifies the substantive support provided by all parties to Afghanistan in key areas, such as connectivity, economy, and trade, and will play an important role in promoting Afghanistan’s peaceful reconstruction and stable development.
According to the initiative, China supports the extension of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor to Afghanistan, and helps Afghanistan better integrate into the regional economic integration process.
In Xing’s view, as a pilot project for the Belt and Road initiative, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is the most mature among the six major economic corridors under the Belt and Road, and has made great contributions to Pakistan’s economic and social development. More importantly, the corridor links deep inland regions such as Afghanistan, Central Asia, and northwest China with the ocean, greatly improving the connectivity of the Eurasian region.
Hassan Dawood Butt, CEO of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment and Trade, likened the Belt and Road initiative and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to a ray of hope for regional prosperity. He said that thanks to the Belt and Road initiative, and the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Pakistan has become a regional transshipment and logistics center and developed into an export-oriented economy. Promoting the extension of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor into Afghanistan will surely boost Afghanistan’s export trade and be conducive to Afghanistan’s peaceful reconstruction and stable development.
In the new round of Afghanistan’s economic reconstruction, connectivity construction will be the top priority, noted Hu Shi-sheng, director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. 



Edited by JIANG HONG